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St David’s Day nightmare for Boris as Welsh separatism surges – bombshell poll

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Andrew Marr quizzes Adam Price on Welsh independence

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The survey will make grim reading for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he struggles to hold the United Kingdom together in the face of pressure as a result of corresponding support for Scottish independence, coupled with the impact of the Northern Ireland protocol. The annual poll, undertaken by ICM, suggested when ‘don’t knows’ were removed, more than half of those surveyed – 52 percent – wanted independence or more powers for the assembly, with just 19 percent wanting fewer, or for it to be abolished altogether.

Also with ‘don’t knows’ removed, 29 percent wanted to retain the status quo.

Backing for total independence stood at 14 percent – up three percent compared with last year.

The election system for the Senedd allows voters have two ballots: 40 MSs are elected by the First Past the Post system in individual constituencies, with another 20 MSs elected by the Regional Top-Up system, in which voters vote by region.

The poll suggested Labour was on track to win the forthcoming elections, with 39 percent of the constituency and 37 percent of the list vote.

Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives were neck and neck on 24 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Professor Roger Awan-Scullt of Cardiff University said on the basis of the poll results, Labour was on course to win 30 seats, Plaid Cymru 15, the Conservatives 13, the Liberal Democrats one and UKIP one.

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He added: “The new BBC/ICM poll suggests that Labour is in a strong position to, once again, come first in this year’s Senedd election.

“Labour has won the most votes and most seats at all five previous devolved elections in Wales.

“And while many things about this year’s election are likely to be very different, one continuity is that Labour is currently ahead of the field once again.

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“The Conservatives and Plaid seem set for a close contest for second place, and both may be on course to increase their numbers in the Senedd.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk in January, Sion Jobbins, chairman of Yes Cymru, predicted Wales would be next if Scotland votes Yes in a future independence referendum.

He said: “Nothing is inevitable, but we think Brexit will hasten up the break-up of the UK.

“People voted for Brexit for many different reasons, but it’s been implemented by the Conservatives as a British nationalist project.

“For instance, under the guise of Brexit the Westminster government are using the Internal Market Bill to grab powers from the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments, the different trade rules for Northern Ireland (which economically is now almost a part of the Republic of Ireland and EU) makes Irish unity more likely.

He said: “People in Wales are watching events in Scotland very closely. YesCymru believes there will be an independence referendum there otherwise the SNP will split.

Mr Jobbins added: “Scotland can now legitimately hold a referendum which Westminster can’t refuse after the EU showed no opposition to UK holding Brexit referendum.

“The arguments for Ireland reuniting are now becoming economic common sense and Wales will not allow itself to be incorporated into a UK which has gone from being a ‘family of nations’ to a master and servant ‘union’ of England and Wales.

“When Scotland leaves, the arguments for staying in the Union, even for people who are today against Wales becoming its own nation-state, will fall.

“Once Scotland goes, Northern Ireland will certainly leave and then Wales.”

ICM Unlimited interviewed a representative sample of 1,001 people aged 16+ by telephone between January 28 and February 21.

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